Running back James impressive in debut
Rookie gains 30 yards on ground, looks good on returns
Published: Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 10:08 p.m.
SAN FRANCISCO — The rookie running back finally got on the field. The old guy proved that he isn't nearly ready to step aside.
LaMichael James, active for the first time in 2012, showed some nifty moves in rushing for 30 yards on eight carries. Eighth-year veteran Frank Gore had 63 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, going over 1,000 yards for the sixth time in his career.
“When you see everybody say, ‘When you turn 29, 30, you can't do it anymore,' when I got to 29, I told myself I'm going to overcome that,” said Gore, who tied Roger Craig and Joe Perry for the franchise record (not counting AAFC statistics) with his 50th rushing touchdown. “And it's all about the training, offseason, working, being smart during the week.”
As Gore rumbles into the autumn of his career, James is just getting warmed up. The second-round draft choice from Oregon had been inactive the first 12 games of the season, but was thrust into action Sunday in the wake of an injury to backup Kendall Hunter.
James touched the ball on the game's first play, fielding the opening kickoff 8 yards deep and boldly running it out to the 26-yard line.
“Oh, yeah, I'm bringing it out, for sure,” he said afterward. “I'm going.”
When James got in the offensive huddle, he received some quick motivation from veteran wide receiver Randy Moss.
“Randy making little jokes, telling me in the huddle he was gonna do some things to me that I cannot say, if I don't run the ball hard,” James said.
James did run hard, showing a lot of quickness around the edge and an ability to spin away from tacklers. He has shown patience while riding the bench this season. And while he certainly didn't care for his lack of involvement, he now sees that it can help him down the stretch.
“At this level, those guys have been pounding for two or three months and today was my first day ever getting tackled,” James said. “So I've got a little bit of an advantage, and I'll take it.”
49ERS GO TO THE BULLPEN
He looked a little puny in the world of professional football players, but San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Sergio Romo drew quite a crowd at Candlestick Park on Sunday. Romo watched the game from the sidelines with a small entourage, and toted a football around the locker room afterward to collect 49ers signatures.
“It was very exciting for me,” Romo said. “I hadn't even come close to that before. Just to be able to see them, you see how big they really are and how fast and strong and tough and hard they play. I mean, those guys are really rough out there. It's really cool to hear the game sounds as well.”
Romo had a dream season for the Giants, getting the final out of the World Series by striking out American League MVP Miguel Cabrera in Game 4. But it wasn't Romo's slider that impressed 49ers left tackle Joe Staley. It was his chin.
“Best beard in the business,” Staley said.
LOCAL GUY KNOCKED OUT EARLY
The afternoon started strong for Montgomery High grad Koa Misi, who had two tackles (one solo, one shared) in the first three plays from scrimmage. But the third-year Dolphins linebacker's day ultimately ended glumly. He injured his ankle early in the third quarter, left the game and did not return. Misi totaled four tackles before he left.
The Dolphins did not know the extent of his injury immediately following the game.
-- LB Aldon Smith had two sacks and now has 19½ for the season, breaking the franchise single-season record (17½) set by Fred Dean in 1983. Smith currently leads the NFL.
-- WR Michael Crabtree tied his career best with nine receptions.
-- Rookie WR A.J. Jenkins saw his first playing time of the season but did not have a pass thrown his way.
-- San Francisco DT/TE Demarcus Dobbs hurt his right knee playing defense in the second quarter and had to be helped from the field.
-- The 49ers have won 10 consecutive games in December, the longest December streak in franchise history. It dates back to 2007.
-- The Niners evened the all-time series record against the Dolphins at 6-6.
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